Domestic medical schools are pushing students away with their limited available spots and stringent admission criteria. Caribbean medical schools, on the other hand, are taking a totally different approach. By offering a heightened likelihood of acceptance, implementing rolling admissions periods, and providing opportunities for clinical site rotations, these medical schools have become increasingly favored among students, especially those from the United States and Canada. Moreover, most Caribbean medical schools adopt a holistic evaluation approach instead of relying on computer algorithms to assess applicants. 

Pursuing medical education in a Caribbean medical school with accreditation is comparable in quality to American and Canadian schools, as they, too, prepare students for the USLMEs, engage them in clinical rotations, and secure residency placements in the US and Canada. However, to start the application process on the right foot, it’s crucial to conduct comprehensive research and understand the admissions requirements beforehand. In the following sections, we provide an overview of the Caribbean medical school requirements and what you need to apply for medical school.

Undergraduate education

The primary and general requirement for admission to medical school is having a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. There are no fixed requirements for the undergraduate degree as long as you successfully complete the prerequisite courses. This flexibility allows you to pursue your dream of becoming a physician even if you come from a non-traditional pre-medical background. 

Prerequisite Courses

To get accepted to a Caribbean medical school, you need to have successfully completed a list of prerequisite courses. Here at AUAMED, we strongly recommend that you complete:

  • General Biology I and II;
  • General Chemistry I and II;
  • Organic Chemistry I and II;
  • Physics I;
  • English I;
  • Optional: Mathematics (Statistics or Calculus).

These foundational science courses help you gain an understanding of natural science concepts, which will be thoroughly explored in relation to medicine during your time in medical school. Additional courses often recommended and preferred by Caribbean medical schools are biochemistry, microbiology, social sciences, and physiology. 

GPA (Grade Point Average)

Caribbean medical schools usually don’t set a minimum required GPA. However, submitting a competitive GPA will enhance your application. A high GPA is a strong indicator that you have the necessary academic knowledge and abilities required for medical school admission and successful completion. 

While good grades are important, here at AUA, we employ a holistic approach to evaluating applicants. We firmly believe that hard work and a deep interest in science and medicine, which are essential qualities for a successful medical student, may not always equate to a high score on standardized admissions tests. 

MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

MCAT plays a critical role in the medical school admissions process serving as a metric to assess your readiness to succeed in an intensive academic environment, knowledge of natural and social sciences principles, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

So, what is a good MCAT score for Caribbean medical schools? The MCAT score requirements may differ slightly across different schools. Here at AUA, while we require you to submit your MCAT score, we don’t consider it as the sole determining factor in your admission decision. Additionally, we accept MCAT scores for up to seven years after the test was taken. However, we do factor in your MCAT scores when determining eligibility for certain scholarships. 

Letters of Recommendation

Another essential part of the Caribbean medical school requirements is submitting letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation are crucial because they showcase your academic and professional capabilities within the field of medicine. Moreover, they are testimonials from someone who is well-acquainted with you and can attest to your qualifications and qualities. You may be required to provide two, three, or more letters of recommendation, depending on the school you’re applying to. 

The most common types of medical school recommendation letters include:

  • Committee letters: authored by your college’s pre-med advising committee consisting of faculty members and advisors;
  • Letter packet: letters crafted by various referees, gathered by your school’s career center, and forwarded as a packet;
  • Individual letters: written by specific individuals who know you well, such as course instructors, employers, professors, and others. 

We recommend that at least one letter of recommendation be from a former science professor of yours since they can provide a clear picture of your academic knowledge and abilities. On the other hand, letters of recommendation from professionals such as your employer or volunteer supervisor can provide insights into your character traits and hands-on expertise. 

Personal Statement

While the MCAT and GPA provide insights into your academic abilities and level of commitment, they fall short of presenting a complete view of who you are and your aspirations in the field of medicine. Therefore, you’ll need to craft a compelling personal statement or letter of intent that explains why you aspire to embark on a career in medicine and, more specifically, why you’re interested in obtaining an MD or a DO. Reflect on the unique aspects that distinguish your desire to become a physician and tell an intricate narrative of an event that highlights your greatest qualities. 

The specific prompts and guidelines for writing a personal statement established by Caribbean medical schools differ. Here at AUA, these guidelines include:

  • Typing with a 1.5-line spacing;
  • Including your full name;
  • Maintaining an essay length of no less than one page and no more than two pages;
  • Listing your reasons for pursuing a career in medicine, the qualities that make you a potential asset to AUA, and any significant accomplishment or additional information that would be useful for the Admissions Committee.

English Proficiency

Caribbean medical schools, including AUA, conduct their curricula in English. Therefore, international applicants must provide proof of proficiency in English by submitting a TOEFL or IELTS test score. You should aim for a TOEFL score of 80 or higher or an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher. At AUA, we may also request an admission faculty interview if there are concerns about a student’s English proficiency affecting their academic success. Exemption from this requirement is granted to those who have completed their academic courses at an English institution. 

Clinical Experience

Clinical Experience

The medical school admissions process, in general, and the Caribbean medical school admissions process, in particular, is adopting a holistic approach to evaluating students. This means that schools are actively seeking students with prior clinical exposure that has adequately prepared them for medical training. Therefore, prioritize gaining clinical experience before applying to a Caribbean medical school. Clinical experience can include shadowing local physicians, working as a CNA or a medical scribe, becoming or volunteering as an EMT, volunteering in medical centers or hospices, and more. These experiences will not only look good on paper but also contribute to making you a well-rounded applicant capable of navigating the dynamic healthcare work environment. 

The Bottom Line

In general, Caribbean medical school admissions requirements include undergraduate education from an accredited college or university, prerequisite courses in natural and social sciences, a competitive GPA and MCAT score, letters of recommendation, a letter of intent, and clinical experience. If you’re an international student, you also need to provide proof of English proficiency from tests like TOEFL or IELTS.

Despite their similarities in the admissions process, each Caribbean medical school has its specific requirements. Therefore, it’s crucial to thoroughly research what each school offers and prepare your applications accordingly. 

Here at AUA, we are dedicated to providing high-quality medical education and focusing on providing students with the resources they need to match into highly competitive residencies. As you apply to medical schools, give us a chance to help you propel your medical career to new heights!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to Caribbean medical schools?

To apply to a Caribbean medical school, you usually need to fill out an online application, which you can find through their website portal. Some Caribbean medical schools will accept your AMCAS or TMDSAS application if you have one.

Do Caribbean medical schools require CASPer?

An advantage of applying to a Caribbean medical school is that CASPer isn’t a common admissions requirement. Here at AUA, we don’t require our applicants to complete CASPer. 

What is the acceptance rate at Caribbean medical schools?

As of now, an official acceptance rate at Caribbean medical schools has yet to be publicly disclosed. However, these schools tend to offer opportunities to a large percentage of aspiring physicians. This is due to the holistic approach employed by many Caribbean medical schools in evaluating applicants, taking into account factors such as adaptability, intellectual and social maturity, life experiences, volunteer work, and critical judgment. Therefore, they aim to look at your suitability in the field of medicine rather than only looking at your grades and scores.

How do Caribbean students typically perform on the USMLE Step 1?

The average USMLE Step 1 pass rate for first-time takers of Caribbean medical schools is 70%. However, our students of the 2018-2022 period achieved an 89% first-time pass rate on USMLE Step 1 and a 95% first-time pass rate on USMLE Step 2 CK.